By Cathy Elelman • 10 September 2020 • 11:27
DIRECT HELP: Residency Helpline volunteers and staff provide one-to-one support via phone or email
CREDIT: Age in Spain
NATIONAL charity Age in Spain has helped over 8,000 Brits with online and one-to-one information and support in the first three months of its Residency Helpline Project.
Thousands have used the Residency Helpline website for its accessible and accurate information on residency issues and resources, including a newsletter update service and FAQs.
The site provides clarity and easy to follow guidance on the process and its implications for people’s status in Spain and the UK.
The Residency Helpline volunteers and staff have provided some 280 individuals with direct one-to-one support tailored to their specific circumstances by phone or email.
They have also directly supported the applications of nearly 180 Brits applying for residency for the first time or exchanging their residency document for the new TIE, the foreigners’ identity card for UK citizens in Spain.
Hazel, a British woman in her fifties who lives in Cataluña, was one person who successfully applied for the TIE.
“I found the guidance and support I received from Age in Spain to be invaluable when I was applying for Spanish residency”, she said.
“I had been struggling on my own for a few months, and needed help to navigate through the confusing regulations.”
Hazel has a disability and has been finding it difficult to find work. She also had issues with registering for the “padron”, a council’s list of local residents, and with her old residency certificate.
“After talking with Age in Spain I was able to present the right information and go through the process quickly and easily, with a positive result at the end”, she reported.
Sarah, who retired to Spain some years ago, also needed help as she doesn’t have an email address and couldn’t access the appropriate forms and book an appointment.
“I’ve been living in Spain for years and never had to worry about any of this stuff. Age in Spain helped me to understand the process and they sent me the forms,” said Sarah.
Age in Spain’s virtual call centre, the Residency Helpline, has been set up with financial support from the British Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through the UK National Support Fund.
“This service is helping to reach the most vulnerable people, who through no fault of their own, need help to sort out their residency”, commented Project Director Helen Weir.
“Our service is free, confidential and makes a real difference, so that when the transition period of the UK leaving the EU finishes, all British nationals in Spain can take advantage of the Withdrawal agreement to protect their rights as residents of Spain.”
The Helpline is supported by a team of professionally trained and extremely dedicated Residency Helpline Assistants.
From 9am to 6pm, five days a week, they answer queries from worried Brits who want to make sure their rights are guaranteed after the end of the transition period on December 31.
The Residency Helpline is supported by a website with accessible information, such as FAQs and blog posts to guide people through the residency process.
“Sometimes the online information itself is not enough, or people have specific questions about their unique circumstances. This is when our wonderful volunteers are able to provide one- to-one support by phone or email,” said, Regional Coordinator Brad De Abreu.
The Helpline covers all of Spain, with an outreach service for people who need extra support in Cataluña and the Balearic Islands.
“It’s getting to the stage now where many Brits are thinking I’d better sort out my residency. There is a lot of conflicting or unclear information out there and we want to provide clear, free and accessible information to help ease some of the stress that comes with dealing with these kinds of processes,” explained Brad.
“Since the July 6, when the Spanish government announced the new TIE process for Brits living in Spain, we have seen a surge in enquiries,” Brad revealed.
Age in Spain’s priority is to help vulnerable and older people who might otherwise be passed by due to barriers such as language, isolation, lack of confidence, lack of capacity, lack of access to technology, health issues, mobility issues, financial issues and the responsibilities of being a carer.
The charity is currently recruiting volunteers to do home visits to assist those who need extra support with booking appointments online, filling out forms and getting paperwork ready for their appointments.
If anyone needs assistance with completing a residency application, or knows someone who does, they should call (+34) 932 20 97 41 or visit the Age in Spain website for more information at www.ageinspain.org
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the Residency Helpline by becoming a volunteer, can check out the Age in Spain website for more information and apply at www.ageinspain.org/volunteer
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Cathy Elelman is the local writer for the Costa de Almeria edition of the Euro Weekly News.
Based in Mojacar for the last 21 years, Cathy is very much part of the local community and is always well and truly up on all the latest news and events going on in this region of Spain.
Her top goals are to do the best job she can informing the local English-speaking community, visitors to the area and the wider world about about the news in Almeria, to learn something new every day, and to embrace very new challenge this fast-changing world brings her way.
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